Hydrogen-powered motorsport on the horizon
January 15, 2007 In what could turn out to be an historic occasion for international motor sport, a new racing entity announced its formation at the closing of the NAIAS in Detroit last week. The Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation (HERF) is a new racing organization dedicated to helping the world's leading automobile manufacturers accelerate the development of hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric vehicles through sanctioned competition. The concept is to provide a competitive arena in which manufacturers can push the envelope of hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric vehicle technology, enabling racing to take its rightful place again as the principal conduit for the transference of advanced technologies and innovations directly to our future production vehicles. The first on-track competition for electric vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells will be in the United States in 2009, with international events in 2010 and 2011.
Speaking to an impressive gathering of leading auto industry executives from Audi, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota, senior executives from Bridgestone-Firestone and Michelin, as well as such motor sports luminaries as Tony George, the CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League and Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. Peter M. DeLorenzo, the President and CEO of the Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation, introduced "The Future of Racing" in a speech at The Townsend Hotel in suburban Birmingham.
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"We are at the dawn of a new age of propulsion for the automobile," said DeLorenzo, a longtime auto industry opinion leader and influential motor sport expert. "From this day forward, we will see internal combustion engines in automobiles inevitably give way to electric power sources. And whether these take the form of electric vehicles with an internal combustion engine (ICE) assist, full electric plug-in vehicles, or electric vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells - we are at the crossroads of the future of the automobile as we know it. The time has come for the automobile industry to embrace the future vigorously - and in no uncertain terms," DeLorenzo continued.
"The concept of racing hydrogen fuel cell-powered machines is unprecedented and historic, simply because for the first time in many, many years, racing will undertake a key role in the development of radical new technologies for production vehicles that are still on the horizon," DeLorenzo said.
"With the electrification of the automobile at hand, racing needs a new idea," said DeLorenzo, "It is time for the automobile industry to take its advanced research away from the reassuring glare of the computer screen and out of the sterile environment of the research laboratory, and let innovation and technical creativity run free and unfettered on the racetrack - with the most advanced automotive technology in the world - hydrogen electric fuel cell-powered vehicles."
"I believe it is time to press the 'reset' button for racing," said DeLorenzo. "Not only to usher in a new era of creativity and innovation to the sport, but also to enable racing to take its rightful place again as the principal conduit for the transference of advanced technologies and innovations directly to our future production vehicles."
"The Hydrogen 500"
DeLorenzo then introduced the "Hydrogen 500" - a concept developed specifically for machines powered by hydrogen electric fuel cells. The Hydrogen Electric Racing Federation plans on presenting on-track competition for electric vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells beginning in 2009, with additional races, including international events in 2010 and 2011.
DeLorenzo closed his remarks by saying: "The onset of the electrification of the automobile is presenting us with a rare, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accelerate the development schedule of the hydrogen electric fuel cell-powered vehicle, while at the same time allowing us to reinvent and reposition the sport of racing to be more relevant than it has been in decades.
I'm confident that we will look back on this historic day and see it for the truly momentous event that it was - the day when the Future of Racing was born."